Opportunities for Advancement for Graphic Designers

Graphic designers work in marketing, advertising, and publication, using text and images to visually express their clients' ideas. With their educational background, strong computer skills, and a diverse portfolio, many graphic designers are able to transition into other marketing or design careers. Four of these include multimedia artist and animator, web developer, art director, and marketing manager.

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Graphic Designer Career Options

Graphic designers are creative individuals who use text and images - either computer-generated or hand drawn - to express ideas. They work largely in marketing, advertising, or publication, collaborating with writers, art directors, and sales professionals. The common requirements for graphic designers are a bachelor's in graphic design, strong computer skills, and a diverse portfolio. These qualifications, along with several years of experience in the field, can set a graphic designer up for several different career advancement options. The four careers outlined in this article are multimedia artist and animator, web developer, art director, and marketing manager.

Job Title Mean Annual Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-26)* Qualifications
Multimedia Artist and Animator $78,230 8% Thorough understanding of animation and design applications, animation and design portfolio
Web Developer $75,580 15% Online programming languages and development applications experience
Art Director $104,590 5% 5+ years of design experience, diverse portfolio
Marketing Manager $147,240 10% Previous management and marketing experience

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Multimedia Artist and Animator

A career move for a graphic designer may be multimedia artist and animator. Similar to a graphic designer, a multimedia artist and animator uses both hand-illustrated and computer-generated images to produce a final product; the distinction, however, is that this final product is animated rather than static. Multimedia artists and animators design for video games, movies, or television, usually specializing in their chosen area. A bachelor's degree in a design-related field, such as graphic design or animation, is recommended. Proven computer skills, specifically with animation applications, and a strong animation portfolio are also a must in this competitive field.

Web Developer

A graphic designer with experience in website design may choose to move into the role of web developer. A web developer is responsible for both the front-end visual appeal of a website as well as its back-end functionality. Educational requirements for this role vary from an associate's degree in web design to a bachelor's degree in computer science or related field. Proven web development experience and knowledge of online programming languages and development applications are a must for a graphic designer wishing to enter this field.

Art Director

An art director manages a design staff to create cohesive visual designs for print or digital publications, movie and television promotions, product marketing, and more. Graphic designers who excel at distilling large concepts into a visual product and who can communicate their vision to others may find the role art director to be a natural next step. A bachelor's degree in graphic design or similar design field is often adequate, though some pursue a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) as a way to set themselves apart from other applicants. At least five years of experience in a design-related field and a strong portfolio are also requirements for this role.

Marketing Manager

A graphic designer with an affinity for the business side of promotions may find the role of marketing manager a good fit. Marketing managers work with sales staff, art directors, and other management to guide product development, promotions, and sales. Familiarity with various marketing media are important for a marketing manager, as is an understanding of market trends and the ability to lead a diverse team and delegate roles. A bachelor's degree in marketing or a related field is a minimum requirement for a marketing manager. In this competitive field, experience with digital advertising and several years of marketing and management experience can set an applicant apart.

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